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BBQ & Blues: ‘Cue up the fun!

By Walter Geiger Organizers and an army of volunteers are gearing up for the 8th annual Barnesville BBQ & Blues Festival. Over 40 competition barbecue teams from all over the southeast will begin rolling into town Thursday and, by nightfall, the savory smells of grilling meat and side items will begin wafting through the air. The festival officially kicks off with the an after hours event at United Bank, the presenting sponsor, from 5-7 p.m. Thursday. A golf cart decorating contest is part of the fun at the after hours. The theme is ‘˜Get Piggy with It’. The cooking gets underway in earnest Friday and there will be barbecue of all descriptions available from various competitors and vendors. Locals are invited to prepare their favorite recipes for wings, chili, stew, dessert or barbecue sauce and enter the community cook contests for $15. The sauce contest champ will take home a nice smoker valued at $850. Entry forms may be found at Also on Friday, a custom car and truck show will be held in the United Bank parking lot off Main Street. The music begins Friday at 5 p.m. at the barbecue stage located behind the former FNB building near the tax commissioner’s office. There will be a large kids’ park set up nearby full of thrills for the children. The Friday night concert is free and features a one-hour set by Commotion and two-hour sets by Frankie’s Blues Mission and Rollin’ Bones with guest performer Roger ‘˜Hurricane’ Wilson. The competition cooking turn ins and People’s Choice awards are Saturday and the show gets underway with more free music at the barbecue stage at 11:30 a.m. The acts include Biscuit, Veronika Jackson and the Pope Collins Blues Band. That night the music shifts to Ritz Park downtown for the main event concert. Tickets are $10. The lineup includes The Melflames, Mark Henson Band, Chick Willis and, for late night dancing and merriment, Crystal and the Cruizers and the presentation of the Georgia Music Legend Award to Willis and the Bell music scholarship. There will be some traffic management and safety measures in place for the festival which has grown into one of the largest in the southeast. Although Market Street will remain open this year, portions of Greenwood, Forsyth, Holmes, Library and Swatts streets will be closed at various points during the festival. No alcoholic beverages will be allowed in or near the kid’s park and fun city areas. Beer will be sold during the Saturday night concert at Ritz Park but attendees will not be permitted to bring in alcoholic beverages or coolers.

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